Sunday, September 28, 2008

Rosh Hashanah

I was saddened to read in a Sun editorial the other day that there are only 13 million Jews in the world today.

There are at least ten cities in China that have larger populations than 13 million people.

The Jewish population in most countries, including Canada is much less than one per cent.

As a Jew, and a typical modern Jew in many ways, I was shocked by these numbers.

Yet, look at our disproportionate contributions.

In music, medicine and science, Jews have been extraordinary leaders for the past century.

Hollywood was and is a Jewish business.

The list of Jewish violinists, pianists, composers, conductors and singers is long and legendary.

Half the inventions in both I.T. and medical technology have come in recent years from Israel.

And make no mistake about it, the future of the Jews is in Israel.

Because those of us in the diaspora -scattered here and yon in every country in the world - are not, by and large, holding the faith.

The reason that we will celebrate the year 5769 next week, the reason that Judaism has survived almost 6,000 years, is that the religion and its customs are in the home.

Daily ritual and observance are at the table and the wash basin and the bedroom. Blessings and thanks are built into the natural rhythms of the day.

The problem, of course, is that few North American Jews have the discipline or desire to keep to the path.

Like the Chinese, we are adept at blending in to any culture and succeeding on that society's terms, while still honoring our deeply felt histories.

And like any wandering peoples, we increasingly intermarry, change our names, join the golf clubs and make observance only an occasional tipping of the hat.

I am not an observant Jew.

Yet, I am deeply, profoundly, inevitably Jewish. And happy to be so.

I love study. I love argument. I am a life-long learner. I love food and sex and passion and laughter.

If I knew another way to be, I might consider it. But I don't. This is what I know and I like it.

Even in the shadow of History's One Great Horror, the Holocaust, I am proud and happy to be a Jew.

I just didn't know, in my ignorance, that there were so few of us.


NRF said...

I suspect that Jews are disproportionately higher achievers because of traditions related to home, family and community. The sabbath meals, for example, are places for love, support and learning. And, for devotion, joy, laughter, tradition and respect. What person would not be improved by participating in such a life long program?

Anonymous said...

David, I have just finished reading Acts Of Faith by Erich Segal. Although the book is a work of fiction I learned a lot about the Jewish faith, rituals, home life, etc. and enjoyed it immensely. Have you read it?

A very long time ago in Winnipeg (1965) I managed (used to be called "Girl Friday") the office of a manufacturing company just off Main and McDermot. The building had the oldest elevator in Winnipeg at the time I'm sure and the machine I used for bookkeeping made noises like an orchestra tuning up. I never bought retail...and sometimes shopped in the district for my bosses' wives. I still remember those days - and Syd Cohen and Joe Lyons - May they rest in peace. What an experience it was for a young gal.


Anonymous said...

It is truly amazing that so few people can do so much for the world.
It shows that large populations are not needed to create geniuses.
Chinas decision to have only one child per family is paying off in their great economic success, and all countries should follow their example.
Would'nt the world be a better place with fewer people in the future?

John said...

David, how could you of all people (all Jews!) not have mentioned Broadway Theatre?!

I'm sorry you missed Spamalot in Vancouver this summer. There is a great song in Act II: "You Won't Succeed on Broadway If You Don't Have Any Jews".

Ketiva ve-chatima tovah!

David Berner said...

Hahahaha....right back atcha...(Who names a child "John?")

John said...

Gentiles. I'm just happy to have a lot of Jewish friends.

David Berner said...


somebody's got to pay retail...

David in North Burnaby BC said...

"somebody's got to pay retail..."

Hahahaha.... I love the classics.

Anonymous said...

it is my opinion Harper delayed calling the election for one week, so that election day would come after Yom Kippur.

David in North Burnaby BC said...

"it is my opinion Harper delayed calling the election for one week, so that election day would come after Yom Kippur."

Okay, so, what?